Monday, September 23, 2013

A Few eBook Fiction Reviews

Recently, I had the chance to read several ebooks while we were on vacation.  I wrote several years ago on this blog about how I was dragging my feet when it came to reading on a Kindle. I am old school!  I love printed paper books.  But, last year we purchased a basic kindle for $30 (with coupons) for my husband.  Then, we decided a few months later to purchase a basic kindle without the ads, which costs $20 more (current price $89) because it was going to be for our kids to use.  This is also the kindle that I use and I'm so glad we paid the extra $20.  It was definitely worth it not to see the ads for adult books that usually come up on Kindle's screensaver.  

I have discovered that there are books that are perfect for reading on a kindle and others that are not.  Books that are more challenging to read, like Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, or books that I need to flip back and forth in are not ebook friendly for me.  But, light, easy to read fiction is perfect for a kindle.  

Since we were heading on vacation and a kindle is easier to pack than several books, I opted to load several books on my Kindle for our trip.  It worked out really well.  I now understand why people like carrying a Kindle on vacations.

The three books I finished were Home Run: A Novel by Travis Thrasher, An Accidental Life by Pamela Binnings Ewan, and Lost and Found by Ginny Ytrup.  

I started with Home Run by Travis Thrasher.  I had noticed this movie recently on CBD and was curious about it.  The story follows Cory Brand as he crashes and burns while playing baseball as a pro.  He is an alcoholic and is required by his team to go to a recovery group and try to "recover".  The story interweaves the present and Cory's childhood in his abusive family.  It is heartbreaking.  90% of the story is very sad.  I did learn a lot about the program Celebrate Recovery, which I have heard of.  The story describes Cory's meetings and the accountability in the group. This is a novel based on the movie and it reads like that.  But, it jumps back and forth a lot!  I became very bogged down in Cory's self-pity.  It was hard to read.  One hard part for me was that Cory's brother didn't understand the emotional burdens Cory had taken on when they were children and what he had done to protect him.  That was very strange to me.  As I've talked to people in my life and reflected on my own childhood, I've heard several times that they knew when someone was protecting them--whether it was a parent or sibling.  They also knew when they were being left to fend for themselves.  Additionally, I think it was particularly hard for me to read about Cory's unrelenting drinking through the majority of the book since one of my close family members is an alcoholic.  Is this a book I'd recommend?  Probably not.  It's very sad and left me feeling drained, though the ending is hopeful.  

After finishing Home Run, I moved on to An Accidental Life by Pamela Binnings Ewan.  I was very curious about this book.  The back of the book explains that it is about Peter and Rebecca, two jet set lawyers climbing the ladder--one in public defense and the other in corporate law.  Peter, a believer, comes across a case that rocks him to the core.  Rebecca's life changes when the unexpected happens and she is forced to confront the pain of her childhood and God's love.  Essentially, this book tackles the question, "What happens when a baby is born alive after a late term abortion?" in story form.  I had never given it much thought before but was aware because of an interview I once heard on Focus on the Family that it happened.  A few years ago, the movie October Baby also opened my eyes.  This book tackles the issue head on when a baby dies because of a failed abortion.  Peter prosecutes the case, while Rebecca is forced to make life-changing decisions.  I enjoyed this book.  The beginning is a little slow, but I remained engaged in the story.  The second half was compelling.  I liked the characters in the story and the writing.  This is a book I would recommend reading.  It isn't a romance.  It is realistic fiction set in 1982.  Yes, set in 1982!  It isn't set in the present day.  Just as I felt good after I'd watched October Baby, I felt good when I finished reading this book.  

Finally, I began Lost and Found by Ginny Yttrup.  Earlier this year, I read Ms. Yttrup's book Invisible (which I really liked), so I was interested in reading this novel.  Lost and Found centers on Jenna Dulaney Bouvier, the wife of Gerard Bouvier and daughter in law of Brigitte Bouvier.  The title comes because Jenna has lost herself in her marriage and life, but finds herself again in the course of the book.  This book didn't connect with my heart the way Invisible did.  The plot and writing were fine, good in fact.  The story kept moving.  I had a concern or two.  The first is the relationship between Jenna and Matthew MacGregor, Jenna's counselor.  Although he seeks accountability, professional lines were crossed.  One of my friends is a psychologist and she explained that a therapist cannot be friends with one of their clients within two years after ending services.  It is unethical and a psychologist will lose their license or at the very least have it suspended for a period of time if brought before the licensing board.  Counseling within the church is tricky my friend explained to me because of this issue.  Counselors have to be extremely careful.  Seeing Jenna outside of his sessions with her, alone, was totally not professional or a wise decision.  The ending has a lot of holes in it and a lot is left unexplained which is my second concern about the book.  It affected me as the reader because I was left very puzzled.  It also bothered me because it talked a little bit about Matthew and his wife, Tess, but never once really identified that it wasn't appropriate for him to have the friendship with Jenna that he had.  At the end, I wasn't sure that I would recommend this book.  It okay and filled the ten hour car drive home.  I wanted to finish reading it and find out what happened, but...  well, but.  I don't know.

So, the verdict?
If you haven't seen October Baby, I'd definitely recommend it!  
If you're looking for a good read, pick up An Accidental Life or Invisible (see my review HERE).  

My Kindle was very good to keep me company on our ten hour car drive home.  My husband likes to drive in silence, so I think my Kindle is going to be making a lot of trips in our car.  I don't mind really because my children all like to read in the car as well and it's a time when I have a few minutes of peace to just read.  

Please note that I received complimentary copies of each of these books from the publishers for review.

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